Monday, May 22, 2017

The Book of Greens by Jenn Louis, Kathleen Squires

book cover
The Book of Greens
by Jenn Louis, Kathleen Squires

ISBN-13: 9781607749844
Hardcover: 328 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Released: April 11, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
From one of Portland, Oregon's most acclaimed chefs comes this encyclopedic reference to the world of greens. It's for any home cook who wants to cook delicious, vegetable-focused meals, but is tired of predictable salads with kale, lettuce, cabbage, and the other usual suspects. Chef Jenn Louis has compiled more than 150 recipes for simple, show-stopping fare, from snacks to soups to mains (and even breakfast and dessert) that will inspire you to reach for new greens at the farmers' market, or use your old standbys in totally fresh ways.

Organized alphabetically by green, each entry features information on seasonality, nutrition, and prep and storage tips, along with recipes like Grilled Cabbage with Miso and Lime, Radish Greens and Mango Smoothie, and Pasta Dough with Tomato Leaves.

My Review:
The Book of Greens explains how to use 40 varieties of leafy greens in your cooking and provides 175 recipes that include those greens. These are not "healthy" recipes. She adds the greens to dishes that use cheese, cream, eggs, fish or meat and use a lot of oil or sugar. Since she's trying to get a specific blend of taste and texture, I doubt the dishes will taste as good if you remove or replace some of the ingredients. She's traveled a lot, so there are recipes from other cultures in addition to adding greens to more Western foods.

The book is organized around the Greens information pages. The Greens are listed alphabetically and include pictures of the greens and information about what season they grow in, what foods they pair well with, and how to choose, clean, store, refresh, and cook them. After the information page for a specific Green, she provided recipes that used that Green. The recipes usually served 4 but varied between serving 1 and 12 people. Some recipes were simple, while others had many steps and involved more time and effort.

The book also had a few templates, like for how to make a salad (add a food from this list, then add a food from this group, and so on). I did find the information pages about the greens to be useful, but I'd expected a book that helped healthy eaters to find new, tasty ways to eat their greens. But it's more targeted at foodies than health nuts.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

YumUniverse Pantry to Plate by Heather Crosby

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YumUniverse Pantry to Plate
by Heather Crosby

ISBN-13: 9781615193400
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: The Experiment
Released: May 16, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Cooking at home is good for you, but sometimes it’s nice to eat without planning (and shopping) ahead of time! Enter YumUniverse Pantry to Plate: Improvise Meals You Love—from What You Have!—Plant-Packed, Gluten-Free, Your Way!

In this one-of-a-kind recipe playbook, healthy living enthusiast Heather Crosby shares ingenious master recipes that home cooks can customize endlessly. For example: Pick any grain, one or more veggies, and a complementary aromatic, sautĂ© them together in your choice of sauces, and voilĂ ! You’ve just improvised a hearty, nutritious “scramble.”

Are you a recipe renegade who likes to bend the “rules”? A new vegan or vegetarian seeking more kitchen confidence? Are you tired of going shopping for just one missing ingredient in a recipe? Infinite possibilities await you in your own YumUniverse!

My Review:
YumUniverse Pantry to Plate is a vegan (no meat, dairy, or eggs), gluten-free cookbook. The author provides 30 recipe templates that you can customize based on what you like (or have on hand). She also provided 100 recipes based off of those templates so you can see some of the possibilities. Most of the recipes take between 15-40 minutes to create.

These recipes look fairly simple in terms of cooking skill required. However, the author didn't spend much time explaining how to cook or what the different ingredients can bring to the overall taste, so it may be hit or miss in terms of the resulting taste of the dish. Also, many of the recipes had a lot of added sweetening and/or oil, though these were usually optional additions.

I've tried several of the recipes. They tasted good, and one was quite tasty. One turned out to be less work than the template format made it look like. Overall, I felt like these recipes were more for committed gluten-free vegans than for tempting people to eat more vegan meals.

The templates: For breakfast, a veggie and grain stir-fry, granola, pancakes and waffles, muffins, warm cereals, or breakfast cookies. In addition to some recipes for sauces and creams, she provided templates for compotes and fruit butters, coconut yogurt, and dairy-free milk. For lunch and snacks, it's gluten-free crackers, amazeballs, dairy-free fermented cream cheese, dips and spreads, crunchies, fermented veggies, bites and tots, veggie fries, and soups. For main meals, it's cheesy comfort food, epic salads, veggie sushi makis, tacos and wraps, 'banza bakes, veggie burgers, and hand pies. For sweets, it's cookies, crispy bars, brownies, coconut-based ice cream, and crisps and crumbles.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Dawn of a New Era by Edward P. Cheyney

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The Dawn of a New Era
by Edward P. Cheyney

ISBN-13: 9780061384004
Trade Paperback: 389 pages
Publisher: Harper Torchbooks
Released: 1962

Source: Bought at a book sale.

Book Description from Amazon:
The first book in The Rise of Modern Europe series. The merit of this book consists in its mature presentation of the best results of modern scholarship within a broad but defined range of topics. Its value is enhanced by authoritative bibliography, compiled, like others in this series, with helpful critical comments.

My Review:
The Dawn of a New Era is the first book in The Rise of Modern Europe series. It covered all of Europe during 1250-1453. The chapters were organized by topic rather than chronologically.

The author talked about how this was a period of expansion in trading, which led to a growing middle class that had wealth. These merchants could then lend their money, which kings needed, so they were increasingly included along with the nobles and the clergy in government-related councils. He talked about how this worked out in various countries.

He talked about various peasant-class insurrections, the Hundred Years War, and the decline of the power of the Catholic church over governments. He talked about John Wyclif, the Lollards, and John Hus. He talked about the increased use of vernacular language in speech, literature, and university, church, and government documents. He talked about Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, and Giotto. He also talked about Marco Polo and the Far East as well as the eastern frontier of Europe.

Frankly, it reads like a textbook. Some parts, like the section on the insurrections, came across as disconnected facts that I'm unlikely to remember. However, I did find interesting the sections that showed how one thing lead to another (like the rise of middle class wealth led to their representation in the government).

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell

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The PlantPure Nation Cookbook
by Kim Campbell

ISBN-13: 9781940363684
Paperback: 319 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: March 24, 2015

Source: Bought through Amazon.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The PlantPure Nation Cookbook brings the powerful, science-based approach to nutrition from the movie to your kitchen with some of the same mouthwatering recipes that kick-started the revolution, promoting the health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet.

Author Kim Campbell is the wife of PlantPure Nation Executive Producer and Director Nelson Campbell and daughter-in-law of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, coauthor of The China Study and father of the modern plant-based nutrition movement. She is also a culinary contributor, recipe developer, and cooking instructor at Campbell Wellness, a health and wellness business. In PlantPure Nation Cookbook, she shares more than 150 extensively tested, 100% plant-based recipes that she has created and cultivated over 25 years of vegan cooking.

With a foreword by Dr. Campbell, The PlantPure Nation Cookbook is also filled with tips, tricks, and grocery lists for people interested in a whole food, plant-based diet.

My Review:
I've now tried about 15 of the recipes from the The PlantPure Kitchen by Kim Campbell. All of them turned out well and were so tasty that I didn't miss the meat, dairy, eggs, or added fat. My dad, who enjoys meat, agreed to go vegan for 10 days to lower his cholesterol. He discovered that he enjoyed these recipes so much that he's willing to eat them whenever we make them. So we decided to buy the author's other cookbook.

The PlantPure Nation Cookbook is a whole food, plant-based (vegan) cookbook containing 150 recipes. Again, this would be a good cookbook for someone new to cooking vegan meals from scratch. The author provided cooking tips and most of the recipes were pretty simple to do. She does use gluten-containing grains and tree nuts in some recipes.

The author described plant-based substitutes so you can convert regular recipes. There were also short educational articles (usually relating to the movie) at the end of most sections.

There were pictures of the finished product for each recipe, and they looked very tasty (which I can't always say about vegan foods). I've made several of these recipes now, and they're as tasty as the recipes I've tried from her other cookbook. They're full of flavor and have nice textures. There are times I think "that combination of foods doesn't sound yummy" yet it always turns out well. Overall, I'd recommend this cookbook to those interested in adding more whole-food, plant-based meals to their diet.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What Regency Women Did For Us by Rachel Knowles

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What Regency Women Did For Us
by Rachel Knowles

ISBN-13: 9781473882249
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books
Released: April 30, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Regency women inhabited a very different world from the one in which we live today. Considered intellectually inferior to men, they received little education and had very few rights. This book tells the inspirational stories of twelve women, from very different backgrounds, who overcame often huge obstacles to achieve success. These women were pioneers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs, authors, scientists and actresses women who made an impact on their world and ours. In her debut non-fiction work, popular history blogger Rachel Knowles tells how each of these remarkable ladies helped change the world they lived in and whose legacy is still evident today.

My Review:
What Regency Women Did For Us provides short biographies for 12 women who were remarkable in their time and who lived during the Regency period. They included business women, scientists, authors, an inventor, and women who used their money to help others.

For each woman, we learned a bit about their childhood, their adult life and career, their later life, how others described them, and their legacy. Some still have a wide, lasting impact (like Jane Austen), but others don't. Eleanor Coade, for example, ran a successful artificial stone business and some pieces made from this stone still exist. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting read to fans of short biographies.

Eleanor Coade (1733-1821) - business woman
Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) - astronomer
Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) - actress
Marie Tussaud (1761-1850) - business woman
Mary Parminter (1767-1849) - traveler, mountaineer, philanthropist
Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) - author
Jane Marcet (1769-1858) - author
Sarah Guppy (1770-1852) - inventor
Jane Austen (1775-1817) - author
Harriot Mellon (1777-1837) actress, business woman
Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) - reformer, nursing
Mary Anning (1799-1847) - fossilist

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Truth About Vaccines Docu-series

Maybe you've heard some about parents who are delaying or refusing to vaccinate their children. When in the news, they're generally portrayed as anti-science, anti-reason, and endangering not only their children's health but everyone else as well. It's a "don't listen to them; only stupid people would" tactic that I'm seeing more and more often, which now makes me want to listen to the people dismissed that way. I mean, we all want what's best for our children; they must have reasons that seem very compelling to them. It makes sense to really listen to those concerns and see if they're good ones.

So I've been watching this well-made docu-series, The Truth about Vaccines. It's for people wanting to understand the concerns about vaccines. The host did a good job of arranging the material and clarifying the concerns so the viewer can follow and understand them. And, frankly, I'm finding it heart-breaking to watch.

Parents should be told about these things before their children are vaccinated, but we're simply told that vaccines are safe and have saved the world from deadly diseases. Well, they're clearly not safe. The question is if they're worth doing anyway. Some of the doctors interviewed believe that some of the vaccines are worth doing, but not on the CDC schedule. Even they question vaccines like the HPV, which sound good but end up doing more harm than good.

I really should have told people about this series sooner. I suspect they'll still have a day where you can access missed episodes, and the first two episodes give a great overview of the arguments. But I'd highly recommend watching what you can, even if you only can access the later episodes. Here's the link to sign up for a free, limited-time viewing:

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Law and War by Jonathan Swan

book cover
Law and War
by Jonathan Swan

ISBN-13: 9781473853379
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Released: March 30, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Within days of the outbreak of hostilities of the Great War, the English government introduced the Defence of the Realm Act. With several amendments over the years, this all-encompassing legislation resulted in the creation of hundreds of subsidiary regulations, many of which affected the lives of ordinary people in a way they had never expected.

Many, including the magistrates themselves, fell foul of the myriad orders, covering billeting, licensing, lighting and rationing, which were enforced by the new special constables. At the same time, the conscription of the criminal classes saw a huge fall in the normal workload of the courts and the closure of many prisons.

The magistrates responded as best they could. Some magistrates went to war; some lost their lives. Others served in the many voluntary organisations and committees that appeared across the country, such as the Military Service Tribunals or the Volunteer Corps.

The end of the war saw a further change to the old order when the first women magistrates were appointed, marking the birth of modern magistracy.

My Review:
Law and War looked at the many challenges faced by England's magistrates during the Great War as many new laws--often poorly worded or not well thought out--were put into affect. The author explained how things worked before the war and then during the war. He included a detailed overview of how the legal system worked prior to the war, which I found especially useful since I'm not from England.

The author quoted the laws (in part or in full) and described some court cases showing how people accidentally or deliberately broke those laws. He talked about military law and martial law, the Defense of the Realm Act, laws about billeting, enemy aliens, drunkenness and alcohol, lights showing at night, enlistment and exemptions, desertion and absent without leave, food prices and rationing, and laws specifically affecting women and children. He also briefly talked about fraud, special constables, and a few other issues.

I thought the book was going to be more about how the role of magistrate changed because of the war, and he did cover this. However, most of the book looked at the laws that were passed and how they affected people. The information was interesting, so I'd recommend this book to people interested in this aspect of WWI.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.